Association raises sleep awareness
WASHINGTON - When it comes to sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders, Ed Grandi has his eyes wide open. The executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association put together a full schedule of awareness-raising events as part of Sleep Apnea Awareness Day, held March 7 in Washington, D.C. HME News recently talked with Grandi about the latest buzz in sleep disorders.
HME News: What was the subject of your visits to Capitol Hill?
Ed Grandi: One of the things that we're particularly interested in talking with lawmakers about is to encourage increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control to add some surveillance questions on sleep and sleep disorders. The CDC does surveys, but there are not overt sleep-type questions. We want to try and get a better sense as to the prevalence of sleep disorders, like sleep apnea and insomnia. As a result, we can do a better job in terms of what needs to be done to address the issue.
HME: Are you sounding the alarm for everyone to get involved?
Grandi: We're to a point now, with our developing membership and our sort of broad circle of friends, where we would like to encourage them to speak up and speak out on issues of importance to them. We are in the process of figuring out what's the appropriate mechanism to do that to allow folks to contact their congressmen and encourage them to take a more active role in raising awareness on a state and federal level.
HME: What effect does sleep apnea have on the family?
Grandi: It's a ripple effect. In addition to the person who isn't getting a good night's sleep, there is the person who is sleeping with them who isn't getting a good night sleep either because the snoring is keeping them awake. Then there is the effect on any children of the family in that parents who aren't getting a good night's sleep begin to show signs of greater irritability, cognitive defects and memory problems. It causes friction in interpersonal relationships that can spill over to children and other members of the family. If we just keep it within the four walls of the house, it's no good.
HME: Are people more cognizant of sleep apnea these days?
Grandi: There's definitely buzz. I've noticed people talking more about sleep apnea: articles in newspapers, people's blogs and myspace. We're hoping associations like the ASAA, in addition to raising awareness, are actually providing people with resources as to what to do next. Once we've got them on the path, then we're here for them with our network of support groups. Our in-person support groups around the country number more than 300 and our online support group, apneasupport.org, is growing at the rate of about nine members a day.